It's hard to think of another Conservative, let alone a Conservative senator, as widely respected across partisan lines as Hugh Segal.
Segal, who announced this week he'll be stepping down as a senator next June to head up Massey College in Toronto, has been a beacon of principled and compassionate politics in the otherwise scandal-ridden Upper House.
Here are some of the ways this senator actually rocked:
1. Standing up for collective bargaining rights
Segal has always been able to offer up an eloquent and reasoned defence of unions and why they're good for Canada's economic and social fabric. Most recently, he used the occasion of the 10th birthday of the Conservative Party of Canada — waging a war against organized labour — to deliver a keynote address to Unifor, the country's largest private sector union. "My Canada is the kind of Canada where trade unions and free collective bargaining make our economy stronger and Canada a better place," he said in his speech.
2. Calling out unconstitutional legislation
Segal led the initiative in the Senate last spring to block a caucus colleague's private member's bill (C-377) that attacked union finances and membership. "It was a bad law... it was unconstitutional," Segal explained last week, stating he would work to stop it again if the Conservative government tried to bring it back.
3. Working for a guaranteed annual income
Segal's forward-thinking campaign for a Guaranteed Annual Income Supplement as a way to fight income inequality includes a call for left-wing and right-wing forces to come together to solve this glaring problem. "Focusing on unequal outcomes or the so-called 'deserving winners' is like assessing peewee hockey's impact on young girls and boys by the final score of the last game of the NHL play offs. Where the action is and where federal, provincial and municipal policy can make a difference is around equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes," Segal wrote in an opinion piece for the Broadbent Institute.
In such a corrupted institution that is the Canadian Senate, Segal stands in direct opposition. And with his imminent departure, it will soon be even bleaker, left to bagmen and Stephen Harper's Losers Club.
Photo: ontariochamber. Used under a Creative Commons BY-ND 2.0 licence.